The student team was founded in 2017 by Dirk van Meer, however, this was not the start of the story that is going to lead to the first circular generation. This story actually started a generation ago, with TU/e alumni Gabby van Meer, Dirk’s father. Around 2006 Gabby was working at ProRail, where he was, among other things, responsible for the sleepers (the beams between the train track) and their recycling. The sleepers were coated with creosote, a highly toxic material. This made recycling using existing technologies impossible.
Luckily, two things happened, the first being that Gabby wanted to know whether there were more of these materials within ProRail. To sort this out he asked the help of (later amazing partner) ARN, as they have developped an expertise in sorting large waste streams. Next to this, Gabby came into contact with Ir. Leo Nevels, a genius inventor who came up with the technology of Elementary Retraction (the predecessor of CORE’s technology). Back then his factory that used this technology, was closed. Gabby and Leo discovered that they could combine the left overs from car recycling, from ARN, with the sleepers from ProRail and decided that they wanted to build a new, safer, factory. Unfortunately this did not work out.
This lead to the decision to try it with new partners, in the form of the Stichting IVER, which was founded in 2011. With this Stichting, he tried to start the first factory in the Willem Alexander energy plant in Buggenum. When this didn’t work out, he decided to stop.
This sounds like a sad end to a beautiful dream… but it is the start of an ever prettier dream! Throughout the years that Gabby worked on the technology, he raised Dirk with the same dream, to build a factory that can help solve the problems of the recycling industry. This started with his PWS (end project of Dutch High School), which resulted in the following pitch.
After this it was but a small step to start at the TU/e (Chemical Engineering) and eventually found the student team CORE. Originally that story started in innovationSpace in the old Gaslab. This is where Lotje Jobse and Veerle de Monchy joined Dirk in his mission. Soon after this, Dirk discovered that leading a team required a bit more time and energy than expected, which resulted in the fact that he could no longer focus on developing the technology. He asked his friend Niels Bongers to join the team and lead the technical development, the rest is history. Since then the team consistently grew into the team that participated (and won) the TU/e Contest 2019 with the pitch below.
The success of winning this contest, participating in the 4TU contest, presenting for the Greek Prime Minister and the Dutch Prime minister eventually lead to the project of the first test smelter, which is going to be presented on the 20th of November.
But there is more! As Dirk continued the story, so did Gabby, as he was asked to restart the closed installation of Ensartech, near Delfzijl, a plant which attempted a similar process, by Groningen Seaports. Aside from this the first spinoff of the student team is being formed which will focus on four big projects. The first is aiding IVER by redeveloping the technology of elementary retraction into a safe and usable technology. Next to that they are going to develop, together with the student team, three installations in Moerdijk, Duiven and in Amsterdam. The last one is really special, because the product created during the process of CORE (basalt) will be transformed into ballast at this installation. This project with ProRail is brand new and of course we will keep you up to date on the results! … ProRail? Yes you heard it correctly, we closed the cycle on that one as well. What once started at ProRail is back there again. However this time not as a problem, but as a chance to transform our railway network into the lungs of the world… and if you want to know how, keep in touch!